By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
"Have you heard about John Daly?" they marveled along Kahala Avenue. "Check out Daly" they excitedly urged by the front gate.
Not that it was really possible to do otherwise yesterday.
Daly was atop the early leader board and the word quickly spread well beyond the confines of Waialae Country Club. Before you could get close enough to glimpse the scoreboards yourself, it was impossible to miss the story of the opening day at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Daly, a compelling man with the rare power to both shock and amaze golf crowds in any number of ways, was back on the tip of peoples tongues again. His was the name that buzzed through the galleries and the one that, like a magnet, drew the biggest crowds.
And, thankfully, not for one of his Big Bertha-sized self-destructive episodes, either.
No, this was long-John, once thought to be long-gone John to the demons that have dogged him, at his best with a 6-under-par 64 ,that only Larry Mize and Brad Faxon were equal to.
This was Daly better than anybody has seen him in years. "I dont remember the last time I had a 64," Daly admitted after matching his second-lowest career round.
It was long enough, though, that on preparing to exit the interview room, he remarked, "at least I know what a media room looks like now."
Indeed, it has been a while for Daly, former PGA (1991) and British Open (1995) winner, who had but one Top 25 finish last year in plummeting to 188th among PGA Tour money winners.
That, we were told yesterday by the relaxed man with the Diet Pepsi in hand, was a different John Patrick Daly. One that has acquired the elusive virtues of patience and maturity, not to mention a better short game.
That all remains to be seen over the long haul, of course, and there are legions rooting for him to make it so. But it was undeniably a thinner Daly. One who claims to have lost 40 pounds down from 260 since this time last year, and not touched a drink in "nine or 10 months."
Remarkable feats all for this man who has been in and out of rehab in a rollercoaster career. Yet, he says, it was throwing away the bulging contents of his medicine cabinet that was the biggest difference.
"I was like a (laboratory) rat for this doctor," Daly said. "I made the decision (because) I didnt feel healthy. I was always tired and I wasnt motivated to do anything. I got to the point where I hit shots and wasnt even thinking about them.
"Now, Im doing what my body tells me, not what people are putting in my ear."
Is Daly back? Time will tell. But for one day, the mere prospect of his return was the talk of Waialae.
[back to top]